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Armenian President Opens Consultations With Parties Amid Political Tensions


Armenian President Armen Sarkissian met with senior ARF members Armen Rustamian and Artsvik Minasian, November 10, 2020

The consultations began one day before major opposition parties plan an anti-government rally in Yerevan.

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has been holding consultations with representatives of different political parties since yesterday in a bid to defuse current political tensions caused by Armenia’s decision to sign a Russia-brokered agreement with Azerbaijan to end six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh at the cost of concessions.

The news of the agreement signed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian early on November 10 triggered unrest in Yerevan as thousands of angry protesters stormed government buildings and parliament.

Mobs ransacked offices and smashed windows in an outburst of anger. Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan was injured in a mob attack and hospitalized, drawing a sharp rebuke from the government.

The Armenian president, who unlike the prime minister has limited powers under Armenia’s constitution, said later on Tuesday that he had learned about the agreement on ending the Nagorno-Karabakh war and its conditions from the media. He said he would immediately open consultations with political parties regarding the issue.

Later that day, as reported by his office, President Sarkissian already started such consultations by receiving representatives of several political parties.

In particular, Sarkissian met with senior members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, Dashnaktsutyun) Armen Rustamian and Artsvik Minasian. The ARF has opposed concessions and along with 16 other political parties has demanded Pashinian’s resignation.

“Considering that it is the current government that is mainly responsible for the situation, the representatives of the ARF expressed their concern in connection with the existing risks, presented their vision of overcoming the current situation,” the office of the president said.

“It was emphasized that there should be a nationwide consensus around the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is an issue of national importance,” it added.

President Sarkissian emphasized the importance of “maintaining the country’s stability, public solidarity and unity.”

In another meeting Hayrenik (Homeland) party leader Artur Vanetsian presented his assessments and observations to the president, noting that the party has its own vision of the way out of the current situation, the report said.

Sarkissian, according to his office, also received members of the executive body of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) Vahram Baghdasarian and Eduard Sharmazanov, and the head of the HHK youth organization Hayk Mamijanian.

According to the report, the HHK representatives “presented their views on the text of the statement [signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia], further actions and existing risks, and also expressed concern about the situation in the country, making some proposals.”

On November 10, President Sarkissian also met with leader of the Heritage party Narine Dilbarian and senior representative Andranik Grigorian, who “stressed the importance of unity and solidarity, as well as maintaining internal political stability.”

The consultations started one day before an alliance of 17 parties, including the ARF, the HHK, Hayrenik, the largest parliamentary party, Prosperous Armenia, and others plan to hold a rally in Yerevan.

At an announced rally on November 11 the political parties are expected to repeat their demand for Prime Minister Pashinian to resign.

Armenia’s current martial law declared over the war in Nagorno-Karabakh bans public rallies and outlaws demands for the resignation of government officials.

The Armenian police warned yesterday that the gathering planned by the opposition parties in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Wednesday will be a violation of the law.

“We urge all to refrain from organizing, holding and participating in gatherings and public events,” the police said in a statement.

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